Jay Z and Russell Simmons were consulted in wake of protests
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has consulted Jay Z for advice on policing as race-related protests continue to take place around the city.
Cuomo discussed the criminal justice system with the rapper on Wednesday in the aftermath of the recent US killings of unarmed black people by white police officers who weren’t criminally charged.
Co-founder of the Def Jam record label Russell Simmons was also present in the meeting, and Cuomo is said to have additionally discussed the issue with district attorneys, a police union president, minority lawmakers and others over the last week.
The governor’s spokesperson, Melissa De Rosa, told the Associated Press that Jay Z and Cuomo had “a productive conversation” about reviewing and reforming the criminal justice system. Proposed changes included having special prosecutors, rather than local district attorneys, handling cases of alleged police brutality.
Grand juries in the US recently decided not to indict the officer in the chokehold death of New Yorker Eric Garner and the officer who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The decisions have sparked widespread demonstrations that have spread to the UK and questions about police conduct.
In a rally outside New York City Hall later that day, Russell Simmons, who was joined by rapper-actor Common, told the crowd: “We know the police cannot police the police. The future is bright and we aren’t going anywhere. Our numbers will only grow. The movement is here.”
Rapper Nas was also in attendance at the rally, with Instagram videos showing him discussing rappers’ influence on social issues of crime and policing.
Jay Z, who grew up in Brooklyn’s crime-ridden Marcy housing project, has taken an interest in politics in recent years, and was described by Barack Obama as a “generous” campaign contributor”. The rapper and his wife Beyoncé also met The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a basketball match in New York earlier this week.